As we come to close the year
It seems the choices now are clear
Iraq is as broken as the glass
That toasted victory so crass
Aboard a ship so close to shore
That Pendleton was at the door
While Neocons so hale and hearty
Sent Marines to their death party
Leave now or double down
And view the blood on Bush’s crown
In this theater of the absurd, we see George W. Bush looking for vindication for a failed preemptive war policy badly handled by like-minded Neocons. This is a war that never should have happened, but for the likes of incompetent ideologues might still have been won. Bush, ever impervious to negative information, sent Paul Bremer, an imperial pro-consul, to administer the destruction of a culture that endured decades of internal differences laid on a history of centuries of rich art, language, and custom. Qualified administrators and soldiers were summarily dismissed and the gates of hell were opened to the New Order now known gently as Disorder.
Today’s theater reminds me of the last days of Hitler in the bunker in Berlin. At that time in late April 1945, the curtain opens on a haggard unitary executive and War Leader swearing vengeance on Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering who has offered to take over the reins of power. Hitler is surrounded by only his most loyal sycophants including Propaganda Minister Goebbels and family, Martin Bormann and Eva Braun, his mistress. He still points to the map and moves his phantom divisions to counter the Russian millions moving west (as the remaining Wehrmacht) and the American and British thousands moving east. Hitler’s reality is the map and the loyalty of the dream weaver Goebbels. The bunker transforms reality from the flesh and blood of soldiers now losing a colossal preemptive war to the two dimensional markers on a map.
Now before anybody attacks me for comparing Bush to Hitler, I know several differences. Bush never used slave labor. He never denied humanity to Jews. He never invaded Poland and he is clean-shaven. I focus on the mentality of the leader in the bunker who lashes out at those who had been his allies and fails to see his own hand in the damage to his homeland and its army. I focus on the absurd creation of a new reality that is unsupported by commonly perceived fact. In November, the nation clearly told Bush to get out of Iraq. Bush saw this as an opportunity to double down his phantom brigades in an all-out attempt to prove that his ideology will provide “victory.” When Hitler finally realized that he was hearing artillery explosions in the garden over the Fuhrerbunker, he put his affairs in order, married Eva and wrote a last will and testament. He also put out an order to arrest Heinrich Himmler for attempting to negotiate with the enemy and blamed “International Jewry” for all the losses. Will Bush awaken from his dream of victory to hear the explosions of the American people over his failed leadership or will he simply dismiss those who disagree with him and continue to deploy his phantom brigades until there is no negotiation possible and no brigade remaining?
In researching for this essay, I read the Kubler-Ross model of five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance). While many of you might speculate as to exactly where Bush is in that model, I have created a new model from my own observations that may provide some insight. Leaders like Bush who are so self-centered tend to move through only three actual stages of redemption. First, they try desperately to save face. They blame everyone else except themselves and surround themselves with propagandists who can paint foreign allies or even homeland Democrats for his failed policy. Next, they try to save ass. They scramble to protect their physical family fortunes as well as their written historical legacies (the Nixon Library?). Finally, much in the model of Vietnam War Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, they try to save their souls with Mea Culpas as though divine guidance suddenly penetrated the bunker. Unfortunately, it took McNamara 25 years to try to save his soul. Bush is still trying to save face. Will it take that long for Bush to come to peace with himself? People in leadership can simultaneously be struggling with the Kubler-Ross model (Denial for Bush) while working through the stages of redemption.
All the families of the soldiers and Marines have been abruptly dumped into the Kubler-Ross model without sharing that sacrifice with fellow Americans. As recently as yesterday, Bush told us to go shopping. That is not sharing the sacrifice. We are a nation in grief and need to share that grief with those suffering the direct losses. It is time to stop ignoring our heroic dead in flag-draped coffins. It is time to put the cost of the war on the budget books and at least let Americans share the cost of the lost lives, limbs and jobs of returning veterans by providing a warm and sincere welcome home to those who have borne the burden of battle.
If Christmas is nothing else, it is the promise of sharing the pain of life and the hope of everlasting redemption. Let us pray.
22 December 2006